Summerland-by-the-Sea is located about six miles east of Santa Barbara on the Southern Pacific Railway. It now contains 89 dwellings, one fine hotel, two restaurants, two groceries, a drug store, and a candy store. It has also a post office, transfer, and livery, an express office, a barber shop, a blacksmith shop, and a paint shop. It is a community of spiritualists, and here the peculiar tenets of this religious body are given free scope, as it is the religion of the major portion of the inhabitants....
~ George Wharton James, BR Baumgardt & Co's Guide to South California, 1895
If the reader will examine the map of California he will find the trend of the Coast at this point almost due west, for a distance of about fifty miles to Point Conception. The cold, northern trade winds that sweep the Coast during the summer months are broken at this point, and by the time they reach Santa Barbara, are softened into gentle breezes with just enough of the fresh breath of the sea to make the air a delightful solace to all weak lungs.
The town is located upon an undulating plateau at the base of the Santa Inez Mountains, embracing the horseshoe shaped Bay of Santa Barbara, and in natural advantages, is really one of the most picturesque and beautiful cities in the world.
Its present population is about 6000, to be doubled, doubtless, within the next five years. From its then lack of railroad communication with the outer world, it had hitherto been heavily handicapped in its race for fame - but that objection has now been removed, and we may reasonably expect to see Santa Barbara speedily rise to the importance which her beauty of location and salubrity of climate justly entitle her.
We see here everywhere the footprints of that grand soul and brave Spiritualist, Colonel Hollister, who lately passed on to the other life. The Arlington Hotel, one of the best caravansaries in the State, was the creation of his brain - together with many other public and private buildings.
After the reporter's seance on Sunday evening, which was held at an early hour, the writer addressed an intelligent audience at Lobero's Theatre, on the Claims and Mission of Spiritualism, and at the same place, on Tuesday evening, Mr Evans gave a public seance which was an unusually fine success. (There was none of the hoodlum element present which we encountered in San Diego and Los Angeles.)
The spirit guides are the sole masters of the situation, and they give us what they will. Spirit John Gray gave the test of writing upon a slate upon which a cross had previously been made in plain sight of the audience and committee, the slate being placed under the foot of one of the committee. The writing appeared in twelve different colors or shades.
Of the numerous messages received, the following from Colonel Hollister was so characteristic of the writer thereof, as to be readily recognized by the audience present, ere the reading was one half finished:
I am glad that this opportunity has been given me to write a few lines to my many friends here. I know there are many things left undone that I might have straightened out. But you know none of us are perfect. But I am glad to say that I am happy here in the spirit world, and though I left things a little mixed upon earth, I found everything as straight as a string in the spirit world.
I am glad to predict to my many old friends that the good time that they have long looked for will soon come to pass, and dear old Santa Barbara will take the lead of California. This is what I have long looked forward to, and I will rejoice with you in the spirit world, as though I were in Santa Barbara. But, before this comes to pass, you will have a little trouble with your railroad, which will soon be overcome - then prosperity to Santa Barbara!
Give my love to my dear wife, sons, and my daughter. Tell them there are many things I regret, but let the past be buried. My old friends Barker, Barber, Winchester, Morris, Benn, Maxwell, Owen, and many others - you all have the best wishes of WW Hollister.
~ James J Owens, Psychography: Marvelous Manifestations of Psychic Power, 1893
Colonel WW Hollister was one of Santa Barbara County's most successful citizens. He arrived in the 1850s, when he and Mr Thomas Dibblee collected 12,000 sheep in Illinois and Missori, and drove the herds across the continent, arriving, eventually, at Rancho San Julian, located in Lompoc, in northern Santa Barbara County.
Col Hollister was one of the most well-respected ranchers in the United States, and he owned several magnificent ranchos, much of the land located along the Santa Barbara County coastline.
He planted tens of thousands of acres of oranges, dates, and English walnuts in groves throughout Santa Barbara county. He planted acres and acres of date palms and eucalyptus trees, forever changing the landscape not only of Santa Barbara County, but the entire state of California.
Eventually, he owned the magnificent Arlington Hotel, and much of the city. He owned a bank. An entire city in central California was named for him. He was an elder statesman. He was a man of creative imagining and innovation, and he had great influence in Santa Barbara County. We still feel his presence, even today.
With or without the help of spirit guides.